7.2/10
4,504
64 user 26 critic

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 11 November 1939 (USA)
Trailer
3:28 | Trailer

On TV

Airs Sat. Mar. 23, 6:00 AM on TCM

ON DISC
A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writers:

Norman Reilly Raine (screen play), Æneas MacKenzie (screen play) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 5 Oscars. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Sir Walter Raleigh overcomes court intrigue to win favor with the Queen in order to get financing for a proposed voyage to the New World.

Director: Henry Koster
Stars: Bette Davis, Richard Todd, Joan Collins
The Old Maid (1939)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The arrival of an ex-lover on a young woman's wedding day sets in motion a chain of events which will alter her and her cousin's lives forever.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, George Brent
The Sisters (1938)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Three daughters of a small town pharmacist undergo trials and tribulations in their problematic marriages between 1904 and 1908.

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Errol Flynn, Bette Davis, Anita Louise
Juarez (1939)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Louis Napoleon III takes advantage of the American Civil War to circumvent the Monroe Doctrine and expand his power by helping Emperor Maximillian Hapsburg to add Mexico to his empire. of Mexico.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne
Dodge City (1939)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Texas cattle agent witnesses first hand, the brutal lawlessness of Dodge City and takes the job of sheriff to clean the town up.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Ann Sheridan
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Popular and beautiful Fanny Trellis is forced into a loveless marriage with an older man, Jewish banker Job Skeffington, in order to save her beloved brother Trippy from an embezzlement charge, and predictable complications result.

Director: Vincent Sherman
Stars: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An actor of the stage finds himself pursued by a lovestruck fan while trying to patch up a tempestuous relationship with his actress lover.

Director: Archie Mayo
Stars: Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland
Way Back Home (1931)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Seth Parker takes in Robbie Turner and protects him from his cruel father Rube. When the father disappears, Seth intends to raise Robbie as his own son. The vindictive father attacks Mary ... See full summary »

Director: William A. Seiter
Stars: Phillips Lord, Effie Palmer, Frank Albertson
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

To share expenses unemployed Alabama move in with also unemployed Bill and Toodles. Bill is hired by a gangster's mistress and ultimately becomes the gangster's bodyguard. Alabama ... See full summary »

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Bette Davis, Frank McHugh
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The day before her wedding, a pampered young woman absconds with her sister's husband; in retaliation, her sister begins seeing the woman's former fiancé.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, George Brent
Marked Woman (1937)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A crusading DA persuades a clip joint "party girl" to testify against her mobster boss after her innocent sister is accidentally murdered during one of his unsavory "parties".

Directors: Lloyd Bacon, Michael Curtiz
Stars: Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Lola Lane
Bordertown (1935)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Embittered when prejudice cuts short his nascent law career, once-idealistic Johnny Ramirez leaves his home in Los Angeles and ends up in Mexico. He quickly becomes the invaluable ... See full summary »

Director: Archie Mayo
Stars: Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Margaret Lindsay
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Queen Elizabeth
Errol Flynn ... Earl of Essex
Olivia de Havilland ... Lady Penelope Gray
Donald Crisp ... Francis Bacon
Alan Hale ... Earl of Tyrone
Vincent Price ... Sir Walter Raleigh
Henry Stephenson ... Lord Burghley
Henry Daniell ... Sir Robert Cecil
James Stephenson ... Sir Thomas Egerton
Nanette Fabray ... Mistress Margaret Radcliffe (as Nanette Fabares)
Ralph Forbes ... Lord Knollys
Robert Warwick ... Lord Mountjoy
Leo G. Carroll ... Sir Edward Coke
Edit

Storyline

This period drama frames the tumultuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and the man who would be King of England, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Ever the victor on the battlefield, Devereux returns to London after defeating Spanish forces at Cadiz. Middle-aged Elizabeth, so attracted to the younger Devereux but fearful of his influence and popularity, sends him on a new mission: a doomed campaign to Ireland. When he and his troops return in defeat, Devereux demands to share the throne with the heir-less queen, and Elizabeth, at first, intends to marry. Ultimately sensing the marriage would prove disastrous for England, Elizabeth sets in motion a merciless plan to protect her people and preserve her throne. Written by IMDb Editors

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Elizabeth I's love for the Earl of Essex threatens to destroy her kingdom.


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 November 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Essex and Elizabeth See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$1,075,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The relationship between Elizabeth and Essex bordered on the incestuous. His maternal great-grandmother Mary Boleyn was a sister of Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I, making him a cousin of the Queen, and there were rumours that his grandmother, Catherine Carey, a close friend of Queen Elizabeth's, was Henry VIII's illegitimate daughter. Moreover, his mother was married to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the Queen's most beloved courtier and rumoredly her secret lover. See more »

Goofs

The movie depicts Lord Burleigh being alive at the time of Essex's insurrection in 1601 however, Burleigh died in 1598. See more »

Quotes

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex: And now, may I go? This dying sticks in my mind and makes me poor company.
See more »


Soundtracks

Love's Answer
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Walter Raleigh
Sung by Olivia de Havilland (dubbed by Faith Kruger)
Lute playing dubbed by an anonymous lutist
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
New DVD version makes the film twice as compelling...fine performances...
22 April 2005 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Watching the newly restored DVD version of THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX gives this viewer a new appreciation of the lavish attention to detail in sets, costumes--and even the performances surrounding BETTE DAVIS in her showcase role as the Queen who is unwilling to let the ambitious Earl of Essex share her throne. Flynn fans won't be disappointed either. He's never looked handsomer as Lord Essex.

Davis seems unwilling to let anyone else steal the thunder from her fidgety display of histrionics. Costumed in the most brilliant array of historically correct costuming ever dreamed up by the Warner costume department, she gives a commanding display of histrionics that will fascinate even those who will undoubtedly accuse her of overacting or chewing the scenery on occasion.

And what scenery! Seldom has the lavishness of a Warner costume epic been captured by cinematographers as here. All of the courtroom scenes have the stately dignity and majesty of inspired paintings. And yet, despite all the rich atmosphere of court settings, the performances stand out as uniquely individual characterizations, thanks to Michael Curtiz's firm direction.

ERROL FLYNN, despite a few weaker scenes in the film's final moments, does a sterling job as Essex, matching Davis' fiery temperament with a strong display of courage, cunning and nobility as Essex.

OLIVIA de HAVILLAND, while demoted to a supporting role by Jack Warner (who never forgave her for outwitting him in her move to play a loan-out role as Melanie in GWTW), is breathtakingly gorgeous and shows that beneath that demure surface lurked an actress with sparks of her own to share with Davis.

The glittering supporting cast includes such stalwarts as Vincent Price (handsomely attired as Sir Walter Raleigh), Henry Stephenson, Donald Crisp--and in an uncredited role as a member of the Queen's guard, John Sutton. Notable in a small but effective scene is Nanette Fabray, at the very start of her career on screen.

Not historically accurate as far as Maxwell Anderson's legend goes (there was no romance between Elizabeth and Essex), but this is a fascinating version of his stage play, "Elizabeth the Queen".

Alan Hale does a superb job in a brief role as Tyrone (with Irish accent), cast as Errol's foe for a change. Watch the color cinematography in the marshes scene--subtle shades of pastel amid the fog shrouded swamps.

A magnificent, pulsating background score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold adds to the intrigue. The film itself is not entirely flawless--there are several scenes that move much too slowly. But all in all, it captures the court intrigue and sympathetically reveals the demands that a Queen must face when her throne is challenged by men just as ambitious (and ruthless) as she is to rule.

Director Michael Curtiz keeps things visually stirring throughout, as is his customary practice.

A final note: It cannot be emphasized enough that the new DVD version brings out all of the detailed splendor of sets, costumes and photography and makes it all the more compelling to watch. In fact, the whole viewing experience is quite different from the VHS version.


25 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 64 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed